I had the privilege to converse with an old friend recently.
I came across him about 18 years ago. He is one of those guys who you can immediately love because he’s such a gently, honourable man. He is not afraid to cry for Go and he’s very sincere in his commitment to God and His church. As I sat with him and we spoke about church, it became apparent that the man was working himself too hard. He was aware of it himself, but there was that overriding sense of duty to ensure the standards of the organisation were maintained.
As we dug a bit deeper it was clear there was a sense in which church life wasn’t something that presented an alternative to the life people regularly lived. It appeared to be something in addition to the regular life. So it was a case that there was the old life with the pursuit of security and worldly acceptance, and to cap it off there was a sense of religious duty and obligation.
The tragedy about this picture was that it was evidently a state of affairs accepted by the status quo in the organisation. Not only that, but merely questioning this approach to things would be quickly dismissed with tut-tuts and shaking heads at such a ridiculous notion.
This is sad because it’s not what Jesus came declaring when He walked among us. That was not the good news that informed people to leave their occupation and spend quality time learning from him. That was not what persuaded 120 people to be watching and waiting in an upper room to be filled with His Spirit and boldly proclaim His great deeds. That was not the outcome of the first samplings of church following the day of Pentecost.
In all the busyness and desires to fulfil the routine of religious activity, we can miss the amazingly significant point that in His life, death, resurrection, ascension and promised return Jesus didn’t just leave something to turn our lives around. He pointed us to the alternative to the script we were previously living from.
That script came in various forms and disguises but it’s common theme negated the reality of the Creator God shown through the stormy love affair with the nation of Israel. It refuses to acknowledge amazing grace, preferring the efforts of man to attain something greater. The problem with this script is that it ends up leading to a great disconnect with essential elements of existence. Disconnect with the very defining factor of what makes us human. Disconnect with the defining factor of the world we’ve been blessed to inhabit. Those disconnects are reflected in the decay, disarray, disease and death that plagues this earth despite so many illuminating expressions of beauty.
Jesus came pointing to the alternative and His challenge to His followers remains if they will live faithful lives that also point to the alternative.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden